After locating our fine furniture and home decor store on a 100 acre wood in the foothills of Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest (see my last post), I found myself in the familiar position of trying to do something I knew little about. How would we properly manage this woodland for wildlife and sustainability? My friends Kathleen Wanner (Executive Director of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer's Association VWMA) and Lynn Levine (a professional forester) suggested that Ken and I attend the Vermont Coverts: Woodlands for Wildlife Cooperator Training. What a great idea!
One of the key points we learned about managing our woodlands is that "mess is best" when it comes to creating habitat for wildlife. Forests need to be thinned with plenty of coarse woody debris remaining on the floor to provide cover for animals.
The program was last weekend at the Woods of Wikahowi in Northfield, VT. Ken had to cancel at the last minute but I attended along with a dozen or so like-minded landowners from all across Vermont. Because 80% of Vermont's forestland is owned privately, the Coverts organization concluded that the key to sustaining our state's forests & wildlife is education of private landowners. They provide a free 3-day training course every Spring and every Fall, focusing on classroom and field studies in forest and wildlife management.
Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife shows us bear claws on a beech tree.
The course was taught by Vermont's foremost experts in forestry & wildlife including:
- Lisa Sausville, Executive Director, Vermont Coverts
- Mary Sisock, UVM Extension Forester
- Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Dan Singleton, Washington County Forester
- Steve Hagenbuch, Audubon VT
- Kathy Decker, VT Forest, Parks and Recreation
- Rich Chalmers, VP VT Coverts
VT Coverts is so committed to their mission that they offer the course for free, including food and lodging! Dedicated Coverts members work hard to meet expenses through grants and fundraising programs. If you own woodlands in Vermont or know someone who does, please refer them to the Coverts program. It's an unforgettable weekend with fascinating people and thought-provoking discussion. The graduates of the program hold the future of Vermont's forests in their hands.
Some of the handouts from Vermont Coverts. Click here to apply for the next Vermont Coverts Training workshop. Did I mention the training is FREE?